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Colonel Alexander Scammel

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

Scammel is dead:—When the good man, the just, the generous, and the brave, and one who has from a sense of duty, founded in the reflection of a virtuous and enlightened mind, and hi defence of his country’s freedom, faced death in all its forms, is suddenly snatched from the scenes of his life; the eye of liberty weeps a mournful tear, and the heart of virtue swells with a rending sigh.

In the late siege of Yorktown fell that accomplished soldier, and beloved citizen, Alexander Scammel, colonel of the first battalion of the New Hampshire line.1 He was born at Men-don, in the State of Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, where at all times he had the approbation and applause of the governors, and the universal esteem of his fellow-students; after his education was completed, he was introduced to the world. Such was the softness of his manners, and the ease of his address, that all persons of politeness and sentiment, to whom he was introduced, coveted nothing more than his intimate acquaintance. So sincere was he in his friendship, that those to whom he professed it, engaged him with the most unreserved confidence; he breathed the sentiments of civil liberty at so early a period of his life, that it might be easily foreseen he was peculiarly formed for the most important and honorable purposes. He took an early and decided part in his country’s cause, and readily, flew to her aid on the first commencement of hostilities; he served as brigade-major to General Sullivan, and afterwards as aid to the same general, and to General Lee, and was afterwards appointed a colonel in the New Hampshire line; but that place not giving sufficient scope to his extraordinary abilities, he was made adjutant-general of the American army, thereby becoming one of General Washington’s family. He was so happy as to obtain the approbation of the greatest character now in the world; he had the general’s entire confidence, and was highly honored by being ranked among his peculiar friends, a situation at the same time coveted and envied by some of the greatest characters in Europe and America. With this berth he became dissatisfied, because it often excused him in time of action from those dangers to which others were exposed; he therefore, prompted by a peculiar generosity of sentiment, again joined his battalion, and in the late expedition was honored with the command of the light infantry; but early in the siege, as he was reconnoitring the enemy’s position, he received a shot, which put an end to his useful and well-improved life.

Though no bust or sculptured stone shall dash his memory on the traveller’s curious mind, his patriot virtues shall live in the memory of his grateful country, while freedom dwells on earth, and his distinguished character shall furnish the history of this glorious war with many a brilliant page; our independence shall often point to all his many wounds, and be a lasting monument of all his fame.2


1 Colonel Scammell was wounded while reconnoitring a redoubt, on the morning of the 30th of September, and died on the 6th of October.
2 Pennsylvania Packet, November 29.